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Swapping US V8 engines into Mercedes 350SL/380SL/450SL

April 18th, 2009 · No Comments

Putting an American V8 Engine into a Mercedes 107 Chassis
Most owners find a 450SL’s power to be “adequate.” It’s a heavy car for its size, though, and it’s stately rather than aggressive or impressive in its acceleration. In additon, the high cost of an engine rebuild leads many to consider swapping in an American V8 as an alternative to having their 4.5 liter V8 rebuilt when the time comes for a rebuild. “So why aren’t engine swaps more frequently done?”

First of all, there are no “kits” of engine mounts, electricals, and so forth that would make such a swap easier (there are kits for Jaguars, but not for older Mercedes). As a result, every swap is “from scratch” – as a fellow 450SL owner commiserated:

“(Chevy 350) engine is in the car but (does) not fit, the oil filter casing is up against the steering box, we will have to use the remote oil filtering kits that are out there, if we can just get the casing to clear the box. When I decided to start to put money into the project I put an add in the Denver Post (that is where I’m from) to see if there were any shop’s or mechanics out there capable of the swap. This was after researching the project and deciding I wanted to try it because of the cost of the MBZ engine and its lack of power. I had already had the top end rebuilt several years back and considered it then. I had several calls and settled on the one who seemed the most optimistic about the project. Needless to say if (such swaps) have been done, the information is not really out there. I went with a Mechanic who had his own machine shop…..he machined the mounts and may have to machine a custom pan and reconfigure the tunnel for the transmission, my meeting on Saturday is going to be to discuss the time it would take to undertake this type of fabrication. Money will start to be an issue. The engine is new with out a mile on it, all the parts I have purchased are high quality so I have about $8000 in the parts including the engine. Have not paid the Mechanic yet but that will not be cheap I will have to draw a line somewhere along the way. I can still get the money back out of my parts but if I committed to the major re fabrication the cost of the Mechanic may be greater than the outcome. So I’m getting to the point of either pulling the plug or jumping in 100%.

I did consider other drive trains at the time but was only able to come up with the little information I was able to find on the Chevy swap. Nothing at all on the Ford or Mopar. There is an old publication of a book called engine swaps that had some information on the 350 into the 300 MBZ (sedan). This is where the suggestion of the Nova oil pan was found, also showed the link up from the tranny to the rear end. A few other suggestions that we thought would work in this application that have not yet panned out.

As it looks now if the pan is not the solution, moving the power steering is something that would cost more. Also the (widening) of the tunnel is a time thing; I do not really think that is a problem but the labor starts to add up. Tie rods were a problem also but it looks like my guy has figured that one out. The accel and trans linkage were both addressed in the book I talked about so those are not a problem… I talked to someone else this morning and they suggested a dry sump with a shallower racing oil pan.”

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Related Keyword: 380sl engine swap, mercedes sl450 chevy conversion, Mercedes 450SL Engine Swaps, american v8 in mercedes sl, mercedes 380sl with v8 chevy motor

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